Garden loppers are essential gardening tools for every homeowner, especially if you’re a keen gardener. The best garden loppers will make pruning trees and shrubs an easy task, be easy to clean and maintain, and will stay sharp and reliable for many years.
Here’s our guide to help you decide which garden or pruning loppers are right for your space and budget, as well as tips on how to use, maintain and care for your loppers.
Differences Between Garden Loppers, Hedge Shears and Secateurs
Many people use these terms – and these tools – interchangeably, but they’re actually very different. Using the right tool for the job makes gardening a lot easier and lowers the risk of your tools getting blunted or damaged.
- Secateurs – These are small pruning shears that look a bit like heavy duty scissors, that you can use with one hand. They have powerful, curved blades that overlap when they cut, and are used for pruning thin branches on bushes, cutting flowers and trimming green stems.
- Hedge shears – These tools have long, straight, scissor-like blades and a medium-length handle. You use two hands to operate the shears, holding the blades horizontally rather than vertically.
The handles are usually set at an angle to help you cut at a straight level with ease. They’re usually used for clipping hedges and ornamental trees, and despite the big blades, should be used only on leaves and small branches.
- Garden loppers – For more heavy-duty work like pruning tree branches and stems that are 1.5cm-3cm in diameter, you need garden loppers.
They look like much bigger secateurs, and they work the same way, although you will need two hands to operate them.
They are ideal for trimming and shaping trees or big shrubs, and the long handles give you pretty good reach.
When to Use Garden Loppers
Garden loppers are sharp and designed to give you good leverage when pruning trees and scrubs, even when the branches are well above your head.
It’s best to use them on branches that are that are 1.5cm-3cm in diameter or smaller. Bigger branches will require a saw.
They are a great everyday gardening tool for:
- Pruning trees and shrubs
- Giving ornamental trees shape
- Pruning rose bushes, bougainvillea and other climbers
- Trimming small branches away from gutters and fences
How to Choose the Best Garden Loppers
Make sure you check the blade is sharp. If there is no way of testing the tools on a branch in store then find a piece of paper and test it.
This isn’t a fool proof method given the fact paper is much easier to cut than plant limbs, but if the blades don’t cut paper quickly, efficiently and straight then you can’t expect that they will do a much better job on plant limbs.
You can also get loppers with extendable, lightweight aluminium handles for better reach that make working on higher branches much easier.
The best garden loppers normally range in price from $15 to $150, I wouldn’t touch a pair cheaper than $30 and would probably look at the tools in the $50-$60 cost range.
Best Garden Loppers on the Market
With over 65 years of unsurpassed quality, FELCO is know around the world for providing top-quality pruningand cutting products. FELCO 200 Straight Cutting Head Loppers are built with Aluminum Fiber Tubes for durability and longer use.
Considering the fatigue in longer usage, this lopper comes with a shock absorption system to reduce impact in your every cut.
Bahco P19-80-F Heavy Duty Lopper is a professional heavy-duty lopper for cutting very thick, mature trees. With it's Aluminum tube handles, you'll feel it's reliable, strong but comfortable use.
Cutting thicker branches won't be a problem due to its double radii blade made especially for a smooth finish powerful cuts.
Bahco P116-SL-70 Bypass Loppers's blade is made with two edge radii for powerful yet smooth and easy cuts.
Along with it's robust forged counter blade, it uses soft rubber buffers between the handles to avoid fatigue when being used.
P40 Pro-Pruner Professional double action orchard and garden lopper is professional made based on advice and feedback from orchard, kiwifruit, vineyard and forestry.
With it's hardened steel blades, cutting feels strong but lightweight. Lastly, with it's non-sliding double action cutting system, you get more cut with less effort.
Fiskars Extendable Handle Lopper uses fully hardened non-stick coated steel blades letting you cut with less effort.
It has durable steel handles and shock-absorbing bumper for less vibration and more comfort. The best part? It has a lifetime warranty!
Which are Better - Bypass or Anvil Loppers?
There are two types of garden lopper – bypass and anvil loppers. The main difference is the blade and how the mechanical action of the lopper cuts the branch, which makes them suited to different jobs.
- Bypass loppers – In this design, the blades look like the curved blades of a secateur. The blades are slightly offset, like scissors, so that they bypass one another as they cut.
This creates a much cleaner cut, which is better for plant health as it prevents excessive damage and openings for bacteria, rot and viruses. As a result, it’s used for finishing touches on a pruned plant or tree.
- Anvil loppers – These are loppers where the top blade is designed to come down against a stationary, thick lower blade, a bit like a hammer hitting an anvil.
This has the effect of crushing the branch as it is cut, which can cause damage and splintering. It’s a workhorse tool, usually used to do the rough cutting and pruning before the bypass loppers are used to do the final clean cuts.
It is not necessary to have both types of lopper if you are keeping them for home use – a bypass lopper is sufficient.
Usually, anvil loppers are used when lots of extensive pruning needs to happen – if you own a large or overgrown property, for example, or run a landscaping business.
The Benefits of Ratchet-Action Loppers
You can get either type of garden lopper with an additional feature – ratcheting. This supports your cutting action, cutting the limbs in stages.
It’s a great feature on the best garden loppers, as it makes it allows you to get the best leverage possible while pruning with minimal effort. This is great for more difficult jobs and really saves your hand and arm strength.
Ratchet loppers are some of the best garden loppers on the market, and are well worth the additional cost.
Safety Tips for Using Garden Loppers
When using garden loppers, be sure to:
- Wear sturdy gardening gloves to avoid blisters and accidental cuts.
- Wear long sleeves, eye protection and closed outdoor shoes, especially if you are working in thick bush.
- Rather call in the professionals if you are pruning plants near power lines, trying to remove a very large or broken branch, or trying to remove heavy branches against your house.
How to Use Garden Loppers
Pruning is important to the health and beauty of your trees and shrubs, but it has to be done correctly and carefully in order to help the plant flourish.
- First, always prune at the beginning of autumn or end of winter, after the last frost and before spring shoots start appearing. You don’t want to prune in spring, as you will be cutting away healthy growth and flowers.
If you live in a frost-free area, you can start pruning earlier in winter.
- Start by pruning away any dead or diseased parts of the plant or tree. Remember to clean the blade in a 10% bleach solution to keep it sterile and avoid infecting other branches.
- Cut away any water shoots from the base of your tree or shrub, as these can weaken the plant over time.
- Cut away 2/3 of excessive branches where clustering is occurring, as too many small branches shooting off a single branch can weaken the tree.
This will also improve air circulation around the branches, helping to prevent disease.
- When cutting, do not cut too close to or into the main trunk of the plant, as this can let in disease and bacteria, and weaken the plant. Instead, cut just before or just after a growth node.
- Cut at a slight angle, about 20 degrees, to prevent rot. Cutting at a deeper angle, especially near a bud or growth node may cause the node to die.
If you are worried about a growth node, make sure the low end of your cut is a centimetre or two from the level of the node.
- Cut in one clean bite rather than sawing with the loppers, letting it twist or skip across and damage the bark, or cutting unevenly. Any damage can quickly become home to disease and bacteria.
If the stub of the plant is damaged, try cutting it cleanly a little further in to remove the damaged section. This is a good reason to start pruning at a longer length than what you want as a final result.
How to Maintain Garden Loppers
Pruning is not an easy job, and even the best garden loppers need a bit of care and maintenance to keep them cutting smoothly and easily.
- Cleaning – Always clean your loppers well after use. You can wash them down with dishwashing liquid, making sure to get rid of all sap.
A final rinse in a 10% bleach solution will sterilise them. Dry them well and spray with oil to prevent rust.
- Sharpening – Cutting branches will make your loppers get dull over time, so it’s important to sharpen them each season. Dull loppers are hard to use and tend to crush and damage the plant rather than leaving clean cuts.
Gardening and Pruning Made Easy with the Best Garden Loppers!
I hope you found this set of reviews and tips on the best garden loppers helpful and that you’ve found the right pair of pruning loppers for your garden.
Remember, look for quality blade and handle materials, extendable handles (if you are needing to work up high) and rachet functionality to make your work a lot easier.
With the best garden loppers in your hands, pruning is easier and healthier for your plants – and your tools last so much longer!